The Tennessee Volunteers (4-4,2-3) are off this weekend and will travel to Lexington (Ky.) next week to play a crucial rivalry game against No.16 Kentucky.
The kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game will be aired on ESPN 2, meaning the third straight night game for the Vols. (See tweet below):
Many would say this is the most important game of the season for Tennessee, as the Wildcats are sure to be ranked in the matchup, but no matter the situation, the Big Orange faithful have seemingly been able to handle anything except losses to Kentuck over the last decade and a half of dysfunction.
Last year's debacle against the Wildcats was a major turning point for Jeremy Pruitt's tenure, and 2017's loss for Butch Jones in Lexington started his demise on Rocky Top.
For Josh Heupel, he will have an early opportunity to boost a solid first-year start in Knoxville by knocking off a disciplined, well-coached, and talented Kentucky team.
Tennessee has only lost to the Wildcats three times (2011,2017, 2020) since 1985, with 2011 and 2020 taking place in Lexington. The last time the Vols dropped back-to-back games to the Wildcats was 1976-77.
This open week will prove pivotal for Tennessee in terms of getting healthy, which Josh Heupel reiterated after Saturday night's loss.
"Let’s start by trying to get some guys healthy," Heupel said. "We’re at that point in the season, and you guys know, a big part of it is us getting healthy here this week. At the same time, we’ve got a third of our season that’s left here, the back four games. Making a decision that, collectively as a group and individually, that we’re going to go fight and strain to make the changes that we need to, to play our absolute best football. We play really hard. We have to play smarter. Our margins aren’t wide enough for us to not play a little bit smarter than we did tonight."
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